Mel is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University. Interested in the nexus of form, environment, and design, Mel’s dissertation research is focused on architectural interventions in the deep ravines (los barrancos) that compose nearly half of Guatemala City. Asking how ravines are contested spaces in Guatemala City’s development, she works with architects, urban planners, and policy makers to examine how differently situated experts design and call into view contesting urban and sustainable futures. Although interested in the knowledge practices of design, her work contributes to research on land, public space, and property in postwar Guatemala. Before attending Rice, she received a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Riverside where she cultivated research interests in environment, infrastructure, and science and technology studies from her research with the NSF REU in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
At Rice, Mel is a co-coordinator of the Ethnography Studio
with Katie Ulrich and Dr. Andrea Ballestero, as well as a predoctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS
) at Rice University.